Supplement Feature - February 2021
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Just Keep Swimming

The 2021 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping

It is safe to assume that not a single stakeholder in the aquatics industry—from pool owners and operators to lifeguards and other staff members to the public who eagerly show up to learn to swim, exercise and just generally enjoy the water—avoided feeling some impact from the ongoing closures and changes to business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Facilities across the country were forced to close for at least some period of time, and the patchwork of reopenings based on different guidelines in every state means some facilities were able to open and get business rolling again, though often at reduced capacity, while others remain closed, waiting for a go-ahead and hoping for calmer waters in 2021.

The aquatic industry is never without its challenges, from relatively high operating costs to ongoing staffing concerns, equipment and facility maintenance issues and beyond. But the coronavirus pandemic delivered a perfect storm that affected every area of operations.

Welcome to our annual Aquatic Trends Report. In these pages, we hope to provide a big-picture view of the broad issues and trends that affect aquatic facilities every year, while also digging into some of the specific effects of social distancing measures, government-required closures and more.

To begin, let's get a quick overview of our 646 respondents whose facilities include aquatic elements—from hot tubs, splash play and swimming pools to full-blown aquatic parks and waterparks.

Respondents to the survey were widely dispersed across the United States, with the largest number located in the Midwest. Some 27.8% of respondents said they were from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin. (See Figure 1.)

The next largest region was the West, with 22.3%. This includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The South Atlantic region was home to 19.6% of survey respondents. This includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Some 16.6% of survey respondents said they were from the Northeastern states. This includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The South Central region was represented by 13.7% of respondents. This region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.